Fisheries

Latest news

Strange fish behaviour has been captured by NIWA scientists working in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds.
NIWA may be coming to a boat ramp near you to learn more about the recreational fishing catch in New Zealand.
NIWA are studying the ocean off Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay to see how Cyclone Gabrielle has impacted the health of fisheries habitats and seabed ecosystems.
NIWA scientists have discovered the origins of cryptic markings found in Aotearoa New Zealand’s deep sea.

Our work

Fisheries New Zealand estimate that 600,000 people, or approximately 13 percent of New Zealand’s population, go recreational fishing in our waters annually.

Understanding the trends in these fisheries is key to ensuring sustainable fisheries across the country. To help build this picture, NIWA is contracted by Fisheries New Zealand to gather information about recreational fishing practices and catch from popular fishing locations.

Where and when?

Latest videos

Open wide: Snapper teeth secrets

NIWA and University of Auckland masters student Georgia Third is getting up close and personal with snapper guts and teeth to understand the differences between biologically distinct snapper populations in New Zealand.

Commercial catch sampling

The Otolith is the earbone of the fish and like the rings on a tree it can tell us about the story of the fish's life. NIWA has looked at 27000 otoliths in the last year each one contributing to the story of key species in the fishery.  Together this information informs managers about the growth, recruitment, and selectivity of the fishing gear which is crucial for managers to make sustainability decisions. Good management of a fishery requires good data. This video is a look at what goes into collecting that data. 

Antarctic science onboard NIWA’s RV Tangaroa

Researchers are working their way through a wealth of new Antarctic marine data after RV Tangaroa successfully completed its five week scientific voyage to the Ross Sea. Voyage leader and principal fisheries scientist Dr Richard O’Driscoll outlines the team’s busy research schedule examining biodiversity and ocean dynamics in the world’s largest marine protected area.

Check out more stories from the 2021 Antarctic voyage

RV Tangaroa: New Zealand’s world-class research vessel

The ideal research platform

NIWA proudly owns and operates RV Tangaroa, a 70 m Ice Class scientific platform.
The research vessel supports oceanographic and fishery surveys throughout the South Pacific, New Zealand, the sub-Antarctic islands and the Ross Sea.

The diverse range of modern and sophisticated equipment available onboard enables sampling and measurements to be taken from the sea surface, through the water column to the seabed and below.

Tangaroa is New Zealand’s only ocean-going research vessel, equipped with dynamic positioning, allowing her to remain stationary or track a precise path over the seabed, even in the often-challenging Southern Ocean environment.

The vessel is operated by 15 full time crew employed by NIWA, highly experienced in deploying, recovering and operating a broad range of scientific equipment.

The vessel can survey the seafloor to hydrographic quality, and is able to produce high-resolution imagery of the geology up to 200m below the seabed, and even deeper using NIWA’s multichannel seismic system.
NIWA can provide or source most key equipment required for ocean science including a range of fishing nets and acoustic sounders developed for fishery and water column surveys, varying models and makes of autonomous and remotely-operated underwater vehicles, an assortment of underwater cameras, seabed landers, and moorings.

Tangaroa is an ideal vessel for ocean exploration, atmospheric, fishery and marine geology research.

Our services and expertise

NIWA has more than 40 years of experience working in New Zealand’s marine realm and has conducted 14 voyages to Antarctica and many more in sub-Antarctic waters.
We provide world-class services and expertise, and can easily adapt to support new and innovative opportunities, making every project a success.

NIWA has recently tested our cultured hapuku on a selection of high profile chefs as part of our development of new high value species for the New Zealand aquaculture industry. The fish was highly praised for its taste and versatility of use and shows potential to grace fine dining establishments in North America, Europe and Asia.

‘Whitebait’ tagged as part of a unique experiment have turned up. Earlier this year the giant kōkopu released into the Nukumea Stream in Orewa had disappeared, but when scientists returned in June the fish were back!

Scientists returned to the Nukumea Stream in Orewa in June, to investigate the trial release of giant kōkopu and found that they were back!

A mysterious fish ‘language’ is being uncovered at a New Zealand marine reserve, leading to startling hypotheses about fish communication.
NZ Marine Sciences Society conference on the latest in marine research.

Snapper are New Zealand’s most prized fish; they are the fish fishermen love-to-love. They live in a wide range of habitats in New Zealand’s warmer coastal waters, around the North Island and the top of the South, and prefer depths of 5–60 metres. They grow to a decent size: up to 105 cm in length.

This summer, watch out when snorkelling around the New Zealand coastline, for our very own sea monster: Hippocampus abdominalis, the pot-bellied sea horse.

Scientists returned to the Nukumea Stream in Orewa last week, to investigate the trial release of giant kōkopu. This is the first controlled trial in New Zealand to test whether the native fish, giant kōkopu, can be successfully stocked into a stream.

Last week NIWA scientists carried out electric fishing and night time spotlight surveys, in the stream; capturing and measuring the fish and recording the locations that they were found in.

NIWA and the Bluff Oyster Management Company have just completed a pre-season survey of the oyster beds in Foveaux Strait.

New Zealand’s iconic whitebait species are disappearing from our waterways, but help could soon be at hand for the threatened giant kōkopu.

The giant kōkopu is a native whitebait species considered rare and vulnerable. NIWA is working with Mahurangi Technical Institute and environmental consultancy Boffa Miskell to test the feasibility of reintroducing giant kōkopu to Nukumea Stream, north of Auckland.

Researchers at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) have contributed their findings to a major news release by the Census of Marine Life charting an astonishing abundance, diversity, and distribution of deep-sea species.

Scientists from the UK, Japan and New Zealand have successfully photographed the deepest fish in the southern hemisphere at 7561 metres deep in the Kermadec Trench, just northeast of New Zealand.

Welcome to the first e-newsletter from NIWA's National Centre for Aquaculture & Biotechnology. Here, we'll bring you news of aquaculture and biotechnology research at NIWA, and forthcoming events and workshops.

These guides are designed for rapid identification of freshwater flora and fauna for use in biomonitoring.

Inshore and onshore biodiversity sampling activity is about to commence in the Bay of Islands as the Bay of Islands Ocean Survey 20/20 project enters its next phase.

The kōaro was once abundant in the Te Arawa lakes near Rotorua in New Zealand’s North Island. NIWA has assessed the viability of restoring this species in the region.

In a collaborative study, echosounder surveys of the lower reservoir at ZEALANDIA, the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, show that electro-fishing and netting have successfully reduced perch numbers in the conservation safe haven.

Journal papers

Clark, M.R, Dunn, M.R., McMillan, P.J., Pinkerton, M.H., Stewart, A., Hanchet, S.M. (2010). Latitudinal variation of demersal fish assemblages in the western Ross Sea. Antarctic Science 22: 782–792.

Dunn, A., Hanchet, S.M. (2010). Assessment models for Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) in the Ross Sea including data from the 2006–07 season. New Zealand Fisheries Assessment Report 2010/1. 28 p.

There are two main species of toothfish in the Southern Ocean.

  • Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides). The Patagonian toothfish lives in predominantly subantarctic waters and is the target for important fisheries (2,000–5,000 tonnes per year) around South Georgia (Subarea 48.3), Kerguelen Islands (Division 58.5.1) and Heard and McDonald Islands (Division 58.5.2). It is uncommon south of 65°S in the Ross Sea region.

Two fossils discovered in the Ormond Valley, near Gisborne, have been identified as a mysterious extinct native fish, the grayling or upokororo. They represent the first known fossils of New Zealand grayling.

Scientists from NIWA are diving in Waitemata Harbour to establish precisely how far an invasive sea squirt, known as the clubbed tunicate (or Styela clava), has spread.

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All staff working on this subject

Hydro-ecological Modeller
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Marine Ecologist - Quantitative Modeller
Principal Scientist - Fisheries
Population Modeller
Freshwater Fish Ecologist
Fisheries Population Modeller
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Principal Scientist - Fisheries Modeller
Regional Manager - Christchurch
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Fisheries Acoustics Scientist
Fisheries Scientist (Quantitative Stock Assessment)
Principal Scientist - Marine Ecology
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Marine Biosecurity Scientist
Fisheries Scientist
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Principal Technician - Fisheries
Spatial Fisheries Modeller
Marine Ecology Technician
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